His Only Wife by Peace Adzo Medie was a Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine book club pick, plus a New York Times Notable Pick, which means it's gotten a lot of great buzz! If your book club is planning on picking it up anytime soon, we've got you covered with a book summary, themes, and His Only Wife book club questions to help your meeting run smoothly!
His Only Wife Summary
Set in Ghana, this book is about Afi Tekple, a young seamstress from a small town who works hard to make ends meet. Her mother has convinced her to marry a man that she knows of but doesn't truly know: Elikem, a wealthy businessman who is in love with another, a woman considered an inappropriate match for him. Afi goes along with the marriage in order to make her mother happy and secure her future, but she's quickly moved from her small town to the capitol city, where life is very different and Afi is dissatisfied with her new situation. Is this all there is to marriage and life, or can she perhaps find happiness on her own terms?
Themes: Marriage, independence, happiness on one's own terms, defying tradition
His Only Wife Book Club Questions
- What did you think of the fate of Afi and Elikem's marriage from the beginning, when Elikem couldn't even be bothered to show up for the wedding? Would you have gone through with the wedding if you were in Afi's shoes?
- Could you marry someone you didn't love for the financial security of your family? Discuss Afi's motivations, and the motivations of her mother and Aunty. Do you think that Afi might have married Eli if not for this external pressure? Discuss the influence of money and class on Afi's decision.
- Discuss how Afi interacts with her new husband. What do you think it says about their relationship? What do you think it says about Afi that she wants to please her husband, who seems to have little interest in pleasing her?
- Why do you think Eli went along with this marriage with Afi? What do you think he might have expected from her, or from this relationship? Does he get what he wants? What do you think Eli believes are his duties to his new wife? Does he fulfill these duties?
- When Afi moves into a fine home in Accra, does she seem satisfied by the financial status of her life? Does she view it as worth having to put up with an absent husband?
- Discuss how the various characters view marriage and the expectations that come with being a "good" wife. How do they differ, and how are they similar? How does Afi come to shape her own views on marriage?
- Discuss how Afi learns of Eli's girlfriend, the woman that his family disapproves of. Why do you think she is told lies about her, and how do her feelings about this other woman evolve over the course of the novel?
- Although Eli is married to Afi, in what ways do we understand that Afi isn't his main priority? Does Afi see this at first? How does she react when she realizes that she may be his only wife, but not the only woman in his life?
- What do you think was the first moment in which Afi chose to rebel--against the other characters, but also in the expectations set out for her?
- How does Eli's behavior towards Afi shift toward the end of the book? Do you think this shift has an impact on Afi's decision at the end?
- What did you think of the ending and Afi's choice? Were you happy? Disappointed? Surprised? Do you think Afi will be happy with her decision?
- Would you read another book by Peace Adzo Medie? Why or why not? What books would you recommend to readers who enjoyed His Only Wife?
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